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Lawler outpoints Brown and gets Hendricks next

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Robbie Lawler, right, used his crisper, harder punches to outpoint Matt Brown © Getty Images
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Four months is how long it took Robbie Lawler to get back to the UFC title.

Lawler (24-10) earned a second shot at the UFC welterweight belt on Saturday by defeating Matt Brown in a back-and-forth five-round unanimous decision in a 170-pound No. 1 contender fight that headlined a UFC on Fox event at SAP Center.

All three judges scored the fight for Lawler, 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47.

Brown was transported to a nearby hospital immediately after the fight with what is speculated to be a hand injury. UFC officials were unable to confirm the injury.

Robbie Lawler celebrates his victory © Getty Images
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The win sets up a rematch between Lawler and current champion Johny Hendricks. The two fought for the vacant title in March, with Hendricks winning by unanimous decision. Dana White confirmed the rematch during the postfight news conference.

"Yeah, we do know [the date] but I don't think we've announced that yet," White said.

The fight will most likely take place in early 2015.

"I'm very excited to get back to work and go after Hendricks," Lawler said. "He's nursing some injuries right now, but I'll be the one waiting for him."

Hendricks (16-2) has not fought since the Lawler win because of a torn biceps. He was originally expected to return in October, but ultimately might not fight until 2015.

Lawler, 32, was forced to work for every inch of Saturday's win and appeared badly hurt by Brown strikes at several points in the fight.

The first round saw a furious pace between the two, as Brown (19-12) wobbled Lawler with a right hand to the chin. Sensing Lawler was hurt, Brown moved in to look for a finish, but walked into a counter left hand that forced him to retreat a bit.

The pace slowed some in the middle frames, as both fighters displayed caution. Lawler opened a cut over Brown's left eye early in the fight, which appeared to bother him a bit as things progressed. He also did well defending takedowns, when Brown looked to switch gears and force a grappling match.

Standing elbow strikes were huge for Brown, who continually landed them through hand-fighting with Lawler or from the clinch. Cage-side stats showed Brown actually landed 89 total strikes to Lawler's 87 - but Lawler's had more effect.

In the third round, Lawler scored his only takedown of the fight and scored points from top position. Later in the round, he hurt Brown with a kick to the body that was mistakenly ruled low by referee John McCarthy. Brown was given time to recover, and the fight continued.

Knowing he was down on the scorecards, Brown showed a sense of urgency in the final round. He connected on more elbows and kicks to the body that put a look of concern on Lawler's face.

Lawler rose to the occasion, though, and drew a major response from the crowd when he knocked Brown over with a kick in the final minute that actually appeared to be illegal as Brown knelt on the mat.

"I told [Brown] there are two champions in this ring tonight," Lawler said. "He's a hell of a fighter. He came toe-to-toe with me. Not too many people would do that."

White also praised Brown's performance.

"I didn't think it would go the distance because these guys punch so hard," White said. "I'll tell you what, Matt Brown moves up in the rankings. Robbie is clearly the No.1 guy; Brown, hurt hand or not, went for it in the fifth round. Unbelievable performance."

A 13-year veteran, Lawler, 32, is enjoying arguably the best year of his career. After narrowly losing the title fight to Hendricks, he rebounded with a third-round TKO win over Jake Ellenberger at UFC 173 in May.

Johnson tears through Nogueira

Anthony Johnson knocks out Antonio Rogerio Nogueira with a series of uppercuts © Getty Images
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Two fights into his UFC return, Anthony Johnson already looks like a title contender.

Johnson (18-4) demolished Antonio Rogerio Nogueira inside one minute of the first round, knocking out the Brazilian with right uppercuts 44 seconds into the fight.

"Training camp was awesome and I was ready for this fight," Johnson said. "I knew I had to get the finish because Nogueira is so strong and never gives up. "

An early exchange put Nogueira (21-6) off-balance and Johnson walked him backward to the fence. A right uppercut to the chin essentially put Nogueira out on his feet and had referee Herb Dean monitoring him closely.

In an unfortunate situation for Nogueira, the way he leaned against the cage didn't allow him to crumple from the first shot. He was basically a free target for Johnson, who measured off two more right uppercuts to put the fight away. It is only the second time Nogueira has been finished in a near 13-year career.

For Johnson, it is the ninth time he has knocked out an opponent inside the first round. The Blackzillians light heavyweight is now 6-0 inside the 205-pound weight class. He is 9-0 since the UFC cut him in 2012 for missing weight. Johnson re-signed with the promotion earlier this year.

He was dominant in his last performance, defeating Phil Davis via unanimous decision at UFC 172. Nogueira, 38, sees a two-fight win streak snapped.

Bermundez glides past Guida

Dennis Bermudez submits Clay Guida © Getty Images
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Dennis Bermudez collected win No. 7 in a row, and he did it in dominant fashion.

Bermudez (13-3) submitted Clay Guida via rear-naked choke in the second round of their featherweight contest. Referee McCarthy stopped the bout at 2:57.

"I know Clay Guida has the name value, but I knew he was just another fighter and a guy who I could beat," Bermundez said. "I fought that fight just like I do all other fights in my career. If I didn't think I could beat him, I wouldn't sign on the dotted line and take the fight."

Guida expressed disbelief in being completely dominated.

"I cant believe I let him get me like that," he said.

The fight was never close, as Bermudez beat Guida to every punch on the feet, hurt him with knees in the clinch and defended every takedown attempt. The finish came after Bermudez scored a bodylock takedown and instantly took Guida's back.

Guida (31-15) faced a serious athletic disadvantage from the opening bell. He failed to close distances effectively on Bermudez to finish double-leg shots. Other than a few winging right hands during exchanges, he landed next to nothing on the feet.

Bermudez appeared close to a finish in the first round. He hurt Guida with a knee in the centre of the cage and proceeded to maul him with flurries along the fence. Guida eventually clinched, but Bermudez landed a knee on the break. Cageside stats showed Bermudez outlanding Guida in total strikes, 51-20.

Swelling started to occur around both of Guida's eyes early in the second round. He landed one stinging right hand midway through the frame, but Bermudez walked right through it.

Bermudez figures to draw a highly ranked opponent in his next bout. The New York native has earned three finishes in his current streak. Guida drops to 2-2 since dropping to featherweight last year.

Thomson drops another close decision

Stephen Thompson reacts to his victory over Robert Whittaker © Getty Images
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Another set of scorecards didn't go Josh Thomson's way.

In his first appearance since a razor-thin decision loss to Ben Henderson in January, Thomson (20-7) saw history repeat itself in a split-decision loss to Bobby Green.

Judges Ed Collantes and Wade Vierra scored the closely contested lightweight bout 29-28 in favour of Green. Judge Michael Bell awarded the fight to Thomson, 29-28.

"There is no way I lost that fight. When I hear decision, I knew I was screwed," Thomson said. "I always seem to lose these decisions, its like I'm cursed.

"[Green] was moving around a lot I guess, giving the illusion he was winning, but last I checked you have to land your punches. I could see his jab coming from a mile away."

Green (23-5), who replaced Michael Johnson in the bout, fought beautifully in what was the biggest test of his career. He kept his hands low, as is his style, throughout - shaking his head at Thomson every time he slipped a punch.

He didn't manage to slip them all, however. He got caught with several kicks to the head, including a hard one in the second round after he had pointed to his shoulders and mocked Thomson for missing on a flurry.

"I was being way more active in the fight because Josh is the type of guy who picks when he's going to attack and can dictate the pace," Green said. "I wanted to take that from him."

In addition to talking, Green landed his share of offence on the feet. The 27-year-old opened a cut over Thomson's right eye with a punch in the third round. He defended several crucial takedown attempts late in the fight, as well.

Leg kicks were a good weapon for Green and accounted for a decent percentage of his 94 total strikes landed. He also landed several left hooks to the body.

The win extends Green's current streak to eight. Thomson, 35, loses back-to-back fights for the first time. Each of his last three losses has come via split decision.

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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